The English Utilitarians - Vol. 1

The English Utilitarians - Vol. 1

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The English Utilitarians - Vol. 1

The English Utilitarians - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The English Utilitarians of whom I am about to give some account were a group of men who for three generations had a conspicuous influence upon English thought and political action. Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, and John Stuart Mill were successively their leaders; and I shall speak of each in turn. It may be well to premise a brief indication of the method which I have adopted. I have devoted a much greater proportion of my work to biography and to consideration of political and social conditions than would be appropriate to the history of a philosophy. The reasons for such a course are very obvious in this case, inasmuch as the Utilitarian doctrines were worked out with a constant reference to practical applications. I think, indeed, that such a reference is often equally present, though not equally conspicuous, in other philosophical schools. But in any case I wish to show how I conceive the relation of my scheme to the scheme more generally adopted by historians of abstract speculation.

I am primarily concerned with the history of a school or sect, not with the history of the arguments by which it justifies itself in the court of pure reason. I must therefore consider the creed as it was actually embodied in the dominant beliefs of the adherents of the school, not as it was expounded in lecture-rooms or . . .

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